A Word from the GM

- Gary Taylor

Hello Cooperators!


Today I wanted to talk a little more about the impact of inflation and supply chain disruption on our beloved Co-op as well as our customers and owners. We are all facing increased challenges at one of the most difficult times in history. For small, local businesses this means higher inventory costs, increased labor costs and difficulty sourcing products to sell, relative to our business volume. Consumers are finding that price increases are quickly eroding available funds needed to ensure food security. Because of this, more and more shoppers are seeking cheaper food options and lowering their standards for food quality. This, in turn, means less business for the Co-op and an eventual loss in sales.  


When it comes to supply chain disruption and reduced quantity of available goods, the little ones, like us, tend to be forgotten or pushed aside as production companies are doing their best to take care of the corporate giants that they supply. They know where they make most of their of their money, and it isn't here, so we often get shorted on the products we order if there are low supplies of product available. If there are labor issues, with too few delivery drivers or warehouse pickers, we get pushed to the bottom of the delivery priority list causing us to receive our products late, or, in some cases, not at all. Obviously, lack of product and late arrival of product to sell is going to affect small businesses to a greater degree than large companies. 


When it comes to cost inflation we are also on the short end of the stick. We do not have the large bank accounts filled with available cash to buy products at reduced costs like our competition. Even if we had the available funds to buy months of supply of a product we know will soon be hard to source or will be increasing in cost, we just do not have the space to store it. 


So you may ask, what can we do about it? How do we, as owners and loyal shoppers, help ensure the long term viability of our Co-op?


First, please do not forget about us. We are still here and so far we are in good shape! We have been taking action to make sure that we are still able to supply you the foods you like and want. We are finding alternate suppliers, sourcing high quality products at reasonable costs, and doing everything we can to keep our retail prices as low as possible by making the best deals we can with our suppliers.


Second, understand that not all of your favorites are going to be available every day and you may need to substitute another product. Some items are no longer available, some items are being delayed for the reasons above, some items are long term out of stocks due to manufacturers having a hard time sourcing ingredients. We are all doing our best but circumstances may require us to find substitute brands for your favorites.


Third, we know that we are well known for organic items. Please know that many organics are now in short supply because production of them is not keeping up with demand. There have been multiple issues with weather over the past growing season further complicating our ability to source the products you want and organic items are no exception. We can appreciate your desire for healthy organics and our preference is to sell only organics in certain departments but we are faced with a difficult decision. Do we go ahead and bring in some conventional items so at least some products are available, or, do we have very few items for you to purchase because no organic option exists. Please understand that our produce department would be very empty if we chose not to bring in any conventional items and with fewer products to sell we would not be able to support the current staff in that department. We must maintain our sales in order to stay viable as a business. Our hope is that over time we can return to an almost exclusively organically sourced produce department but for now that is not possible. 


Fourth, talk to us. Let us know what items you may be purchasing in other stores so we can try to accommodate more of your needs. We are realizing lately that we have been missing a few everyday items that are found in other stores. When you notice that we do not have what you are looking for, please tell us!


Finally, Common Ground has been around for a long time due to you, our loyal base of owners and shoppers. We just need you to continue supporting us as you always have.


Thanks so much for all you do!